Remember that news coverage with customers scrapping over a TV in ASDA? That was back in 2013, when US import, Black Friday, became a ‘thing’ in the UK. Fast forward four short years, and the evidence is all around that brands are cleverly tailoring and adapting ‘Black Friday’ to make sure their brand & retail model is benefitting to the max – avoiding website meltdowns, a police presence and even discounting in the first place.

Today’s Black Friday is a much more sophisticated creature, growing not only in the length of time its sales impact the market, but also in its proficiency. With 2016’s sales raking in over £6.45 billion for the retail industry, it’s evident that there is big money to be made for a brand that plays a strong Black Friday game.

But how are brands creating differentiation and stand-out, during what is arguably the most competitive sales period of the year?

Whilst big online retailers are embracing the Black Friday sales with open arms, with names like Amazon and Argos running offers for an extended two-week period, some are deciding to shun the discount deals all together.

Furniture store giant Ikea is amongst those ditching the discount in favour of cementing its position as an everyday value brand, and celebrating its ‘low prices all year round’. Luxury supermarket Marks & Spencer has also followed in suit, with Chief Executive Steve Rowe stating it ‘sucked business out of the following weeks’.

Though this approach has allowed some brands to situate themselves as good value, others are going one step further, with the likes of Patagonia opting to donate all profits made on the day to charity.

But where do we go from here? James Winfield, Digital Director at Propaganda, suggests that as consumer spending shifts to early November sales, we’ll begin to see a direct impact on the traditional December shopping and January sales period: “We’re still seeing the same higher volume of consumers shopping during the festive period, however, the seasonality pattern has shifted away from the traditional Boxing Day & January Sale model to be more front end weighted. As brands are launching their Black Friday sales earlier and running them for longer, we’re beginning to see the traditional sales boom in the run up to Christmas Day lessen, and even January sales shorten, as consumers begin to spend earlier in order to snap up better deals.”